LG G5 review: Hardware, specs and performance

Screen

The LG G5 features a 5.3in screen, which is smaller than the previous two models. We're pleased to report that LG has stuck with the Quad HD resolution which it initially led the way in the market with the G3, instead of bumping things to unnecessary 4K territory. A pixel density of 554ppi is plenty for us and we've got no major complaints about the screen. 

LG G5 screen

That said, compared side-by-side with the Galaxy S7 and iPhone 6S, the LG G5 offers a dimmer experience with poorer viewing angles and colours are also less vibrant and contrast isn't as impressive. While the SuperAMOLED screen on the S7 might have colours which pop too much, Samsung offers different modes. There's no such option on the G5 and it's slightly sub-par compared to the competition. The stage we're at with smartphones means we have to get a little pedantic on the details to highlight how they stack up.

Although the brightness isn’t the best at full whack, make sure it’s in auto mode when you need it to be higher as it can push it further than when in manual mode.

Always on screen

Like the Galaxy S7, the LG G5 has an always on screen but it's not the same experience. Neither has got it right if you ask us with each getting it right and wrong in different ways. 

On the G5 there's far less control so you can only choose between displaying the time or your signature (along with the date) with no choice of fonts or styles. However, it shows more notifications - not just calls and texts - and doesn't ping distractingly around the screen. What it really needs is the ability to control how bright the information is as it's a little on the dim side so can be difficult to see at times.

LG G5 always on screen

Processor and performance

The G5 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor – something which the chipmaker essentially announced on Twitter before the launch. It's a quad-core chip and has an Adreno 530 GPU all backed up by 4GB of RAM which looks like it will be the standard for many Android flagships this year.

Surprisingly, the Galaxy S7 has the Exynos 8890 in the UK, so we're in for a good old-fashioned processor-off.

While the LG G5 isn’t technically the fastest in Geekbench 3 it set some impressive numbers on the graphics side of things. The bottom line here is that flagships have long reached a point where performance is more than plentiful and shouldn’t be where you decide between two or more rivals. The G5 is smooth and speedy in operation throughout.

Storage, connectivity and fingerprint scanner 

Storage sits at 32GB and LG continues to offer expandable storage with the Micro-SD card slot which supports up to 200GB cards. That's not as much of a unique selling point now Samsung has added it back to the Galaxy S7.

Connectivity remains a strong point with the G5 offering 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX, Cat 9 4G LTE and GPS. LG still offers NFC and an infrared port which is gone from the S7. The two big additions are a Type-C USB port 9 (which Samsung has avoided) and a fingerprint scanner on the back.

The best position for a fingerprint scanner is debatable but on the back is certainly ergonomic when you’re holding the G5 – not so much when it’s sat on a flat surface, though. What’s impressive is how accurate and fast the sensor is, even when touching it at an awkward angle. 

LG G5 USB Type-C

Battery life

Despite rumours of a 4000mAh battery, the LG G5 has a more modest 2800mAh cell. Although it doesn't sound great and there’s no wireless charging, the G5 supports Quick Charge 3.0 so you can pump it full of juice in less time – around 80 percent in 30 minutes. The key here, compared to the Galaxy S7, is that it's removable. 

In our battery benchmark, it’s no surprise to find the G5 a little way behind the leading handsets with its smaller cell. It managed a respectable six hour and 51 minutes with a score of 4111, though. The Galaxy S7, however, went more than nine hours. 

LG G5 battery life

Back in the real world, the LG G5 lasted comfortably through a day of varied usage for us. It will potentially last a couple of days if you are a light user – we’re talking no gaming or other power hungry tasks like watching videos.

Audio

The LG G5 comes with a set of bundled earphones which are terminated by a straight 3.5mm jack. We would have preferred a gold-plated right-angled 3.5mm jack to be included, but this is unlikely for any bundles earphones.

The cable is made out of a fabric material that seems like a nice idea at first, but created cable noise (microphonics) when it’s brushed on clothing. To eliminate the microphonics, you can use the earphones over-the-ear; however if you have a big collar, you might find the Y-split a little too short. Speaking of which, the Y-split presents an in-line mic with a one-button remote. On the plus side the earphones are very light and can be worn for long listening sessions.

The sound quality of the earphones is decent for bundled earphones. We found them to provide a great soundstage, whereas most earphones that come bundled with phones have a closed soundstage. The lows (bass frequencies) of the earphones are a mixed bag. We found the earphones struggling to extend into the sub-bass regions, whilst being able to reproduce a clean, controlled and precise mid-bass impact. The mids are well presented and provide a good forward-sounding presentation, albeit being slightly recessed. The highs are rolled off, but do provide somewhat of a sparkle at the top-end frequencies.

Overall, the bundled earphones are very impressive and we find them a fantastic inclusion to the LG G5’s accessories. Some phones don't even come with any.

Speaker quality

We found the LG G5’s speaker to be very loud and clear, scoring an impressive 8.5/10 in our speaker volume tests. We would have preferred the G5 to come with dual speakers, as it would have been able to compete with the loudness levels found in the Marshall London or better still the Google Nexus 6P, both of which have dual front-facing speakers. The LG on the other hand has a single downward-firing speaker which is located on the left-hand side of the phone. We should mention that at maximum volume, we noticed vibrations that could be felt through the phone’s metal body; thankfully there were no signs of distortion.

Moving on to the sound quality, we found the bass to be somewhat disappointing, with the sub-bass being non-existent and the mid-bass lacking real impact. On the plus side, we were impressed by its mid-range reproduction, which was forwarding-sounding. The highs are rolled off, but do provide a decent sparkle at the top-end frequencies.

We found the soundstage to be slightly odd, with the culprit being the decay heard within the speaker’s chamber. We felt the sound had an odd percussion which resulted in the sound being somewhat different from the other speakers we’ve previously reviewed.

Read next: Best audio phone 2016.


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